Sounds like: kha-lohm (rhymes with shalom)
A co-worker of mine recently told me she had a dream about me: She was feeling anxious and ran outside of her home in distress. Suddenly she was knocking on my door. I opened it up, invited her in, and offered her a piece of pumpkin pie. The pie made her happy and she felt less stressed.
Now this is odd on many levels. First of all she had never been to my house before. She had no idea what it looked like or even where I lived. In fact, we live 39 kilometers apart. Secondly I’ve never made pumpkin pie in my lifetime. (I was not blessed with an overabundance of kitchen skills… or any kitchen skills actually).
Why did her nocturnal mind’s wanderings take her to my house? And why pie, when I clearly had never offered her any sort of bake goods before? Regardless of these questions, it is lovely to think that her visit to me was a pleasant experience which helped her de-stress.
Dreams are a funny thing and they are all over Scripture. For a quick overview, check out this very helpful webpage: Infographic: Every dream in the Bible (and what they mean). There are dreams about ladders (Genesis 28), sheaves of wheat & stars (Genesis 37), branches & baskets (Genesis 40), cows & grain (Genesis 41), a tumbling barley loaf (Judges 7), a crushed statute (Daniel 2), a chopped tree (Daniel 4), and fantastic beasts (Daniel 7).
However, in the very first dream found in the Bible, there is no abstract symbolism. It was simply God speaking directly to a king telling him that he was not to touch a particular woman. It is the story found in Genesis 20 when Abraham, and his beautiful wife Sarah faced King Abimelech. Worried that King Abimelech would kill him to acquire Sarah, Abraham announced (to protect himself) that Sarah was his sister. It was a foolish move, on Abraham’s part, because it allowed Abimelech to think that it was okay to take the apparently unmarried Sarah to be his own. Abraham protected himself, but he left Sarah exposed and unprotected. But God stepped in, using a dream for the first time , to stop Abimelech. It was a clear dream of warning for the king AND a dream of protection for Sarah. God loved her so much that He personally intervened, in this new and profound way, to protect her.
Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
But God came to Abimelech in a dream [ba-khalom] of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.” Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless? “Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”
Then God said to him in the dream [ba-khalom], “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
Most of the dreams, found in the Tanakh, are God’s personal intervention to guide, prepare, and protect us. There are warning dreams, like Abimelech’s, but also instructional dreams and prophetic dreams.
Sometimes dreams included detailed instructions. Jacob’s father-in-law Laban resented Jacob’s success as a sheep breeder. Anytime they had made a deal about which newborn lambs would be considered Jacobs, striped or speckled, the flock produced exactly the kind that Jacob was promised for his wages. God favoured Jacob, and Laban took notice! In a dream YHWH showed Jacob that He was giving everything to him, followed by an instruction:
“And it came about at the time when the flock were mating that I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream [ba-khalom], and behold, the male goats which were mating were striped, speckled, and mottled. “Then the angel of God said to me in the dream [ba-khalom], ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ “He said, ‘Lift up now your eyes and see that all the male goats which are mating are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’”
And so Jacob did as he was instructed.
The most prolific dreamer in the Tanakh was Joseph. He had many prophetic dreams, keys to future happenings. Many people in Joseph’s life weren’t so keen on hearing these dreams. His own family, his mother, father, and eleven brothers found some of these dreams offensive:
And he [Joseph] dreamed [wey-ya-khalom] still another dream [khalom], and related it to his brothers, and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream [khalom’ti khalom owd]; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is the dream [ha-khalom] that you have dreamed [khalom’ta]? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
As the story goes, one day they would bow down to Joseph as he became a powerful leader in Egypt as a result of their own ill-treatment towards him.
Joseph is one among many dreamers in the Bible, including Daniel, Laban, a cup-bearer, a baker, a Midianite warrior, Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, the Magi. It was not only the God’s followers who were given dreams, but also those considered “the enemy”, such as the Babylonian king Nebuchednezzar, and the Midianite warrior.
The prophet Isaiah, knowing that we all have dreams, used dream analogy to highlight how the nations who had waged war against God’s people lived:
And the multitude of all the nations who wage war against Ariel [Jerusalem], even all who wage war against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, will be like a dream [ka-khalom], a vision of the night.
It will be as when a hungry man dreams [ya-khalom]— and behold, he is eating, but when he awakens, his hunger is not satisfied; Or as when a thirsty man dreams [ya-khalom]— and behold, he is drinking, but when he awakens, behold, he is faint and his thirst is not quenched. Thus the multitude of all the nations will be who wage war against Mount Zion.
These enemies of God dreamt of satisfaction, but never had any. They sought physical comfort, but found none. These nations were seeking the wrong thing. Rather than seeking comfort and satisfaction, they should have been seeking YHWH and calling on His name.
Beware of False Dreamers
Dreams were recognized as forms of prophecy, so it was important that the Torah included warnings about false prophetic dreamers:
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams [kholem khalom] arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams [kholem ha-khalom]; for YHWH your God is testing you to find out if you love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul. “You shall follow YHWH your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.”
We need to be aware that we do not love prophecy more than we love YHWH Himself! God warns us to watch for false prophets, those who use “dreams” to gain notoriety and influence:
Jeremiah 23:25-29, 32
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream [khlom’ti], I had a dream [khlom’ti]!’ How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams [ba-khalom’tam] which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal?
“The prophet who has a dream [khalom] may relate his dream [khalom], but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares YHWH. “Is not My word like fire?” declares YHWH, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?…
…“Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams [khalom’owt seqer],” declares YHWH, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares YHWH.
There has been a dramatic up-rise in the focus of end-time prophecies in recent days. There’s a lot of junk out there and it’s shifting the focus away from what Yeshua (Jesus) really wanted us to hone in on: love, compassion, forgiveness, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the needy… becoming a servant to humanity.
All Biblical dreams pointed to Jesus. Every dream in the Bible pushed the narrative closer to cross. By the time we get to the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah) all of the dreams (apart from one) are connected to the birth of Jesus (Yeshua).
Yeshua and Dreams
It is interesting that the two most recorded dreamers in the Bible were named Joseph. Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel, was the most recorded dreamer in the Tanakh (Old Testament), and Joseph the Carpenter was the the most recorded dreamer in the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament).
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph was instructed in a dream to take the young, pregnant, Mary as his wife, despite social pressures not to (Matthew 1:20). After Jesus (Yeshua) was born Joseph was instructed, in a dream, to head to Egypt to protect his family:
When they [the Magi] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”
So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son”.
After some time had passed, Joseph was instructed, by dream, to return to Israel (Matthew 2:19-20) and then later, in another dream, he was instructed to head to the region of Galilee:
So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
All these dreams (the Magi’s and Joseph’s) were sent to protect the Messiah so that he could fulfill his role of being Salvation for all people. Even his very name announced it! Jesus the Messiah means “Salvation, the Anointed One“, (or in Hebrew, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach). God spoke through dreams to save His Son, who would, in turn, save humanity.
The final dream found in Scripture is connected to the death of Jesus. It is the only recorded dream of a woman found in the Bible. Unfortunately we know nothing about the details of the dream, other than she had it and it shook her enough that she decided to warn her husband. Her husband was the very powerful Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea:
While he [Pilate] was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”
How did she suffer? What kind of dream did she have? Prophetic? Warning? Instructional? Perhaps it was all three. With the dream she was given, she used it to warn her husband. And Pilate took heed of her message. He passed the right of judgement over to the Jewish leaders and washed his hands of the deed:
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.”
YHWH used dreams as a way to communicate with humanity. But they were always direct. There was no question or mystery about who was speaking in these dreams. YHWH announced himself clearly.
The false prophets who cried out, “I had a dream! I had a dream!” were not speaking on God’s behalf. They were speaking on their own behalf, trying to lift up their own agendas. We need to be careful that we are not like those imposters. We should not try to seek out the divine meaning of our dreams when there is none. Most of our dreams are idle mind wanderings. God gave us the capacity to dream so that He could use them as a vehicle for communication, but that doesn’t mean that every dream carries a divine message. Sometimes a dream of wandering into a friends house for a piece of pumpkin pie just makes us feel happy. Or perhaps my dream, from last night, about getting lost down a city street just gave me a greater appreciation for home.
Whatever dreams you find yourself in, whether warm and fuzzy or nightmarish, remember YHWH’s love for you… that through dreams He protected a little baby who couldn’t yet speak for himself and who was completely dependent on human help. That little newborn was the Messiah, the One who came to Save us. God protected him through dreams so that he could live, and then fulfill his mission to die on the cross for you and me.
Essentially YHWH would not have to speak through dreams any more, because He sent His Son to walk among us. Dreams provided prophecies, warnings and instructions, but now Jesus would give us all the prophecies, warnings and instruction that we would need to walk forward in this life. And He provided it all with the warmth of His Spirit, the joy of His compassion, and His undying love for you and me.
Next week: Bread